Artist Profile Series: Colemxn Pester
Colemxn Pester is a Seattle-based choreographer and interdisciplinary artist whose work explores the intersections of technology and contemporary dance. They are the founder of //TECTONIC MARROW SOCIETY, an interdisciplinary art platform centered around contemporary dance, and their work has been performed at local venues such as Seattle Art Museum, On the Boards, King Street Station, and the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center, as well as internationally. In 2018, they were named in City Arts Magazine’s Future List as an “artist to illuminate the year to come.”
Colemxn’s interest in creating multimedia dance performances grew out of their experiences working with Australia-based dance company Chunky Move. As an assistant to the company’s artistic director, Anouk van Dijk, Colemxn got to see how the company built out teams of artists to create performances that tested the limits of contemporary dance. “Entering that kind of environment right after college set a precedent for how I conceptualize dance,” says Colemxn. “I’m interested in how dance and several other disciplines are evolving and the lines are blurring, moving towards interdisciplinary work.”
Colemxn’s projects often begin with building out a team of collaborators from multiple disciplines including sound designers, media artists, and other choreographers who can add new dimensions to the work. Their recent collaborators include Monica Khot (sound design) and Alex Boeschenstein (visual art). “It’s been really great finding synergy between [Monica] and [Alex] and seeing what visual language we’ve built together,” says Colemxn. “That really fuels the work.”
In 2015, Colemxn received a Grants for Artist Projects (GAP) award to support the creation of PYLON I, a two-hour immersive performance using live video feeds, architectural set pieces, improvised scores, and audience participation to explore the impacts of surveillance on identity. They and co-director Ethan Folk developed ideas for the show through a series of conversations about the implications of surveillance culture. “We were looking at different structures built to control populations,” says Colemxn on the inspiration for the project. “That’s where the term PYLON comes from. How do we name a huge structure that is driven by technology but is used to control us?”
PYLON I premiered at the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park PACCAR Pavilion in early 2016. They continued working with ideas generated for the show to create PYLON II, which premiered at King Street Station in late 2016, and PYLON III, which was performed at the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center earlier this year.
//TECTONIC MARROW SOCIETY recently performed an excerpt of PYLON III at the Seattle International Dance Festival and hosted a Countertechnique-based workshop at the University of Washington. In addition to these projects and coming up with ideas for new works, they also manage all of the administrative work for //TECTONIC MARROW SOCIETY.
Colemxn’s advice for artists applying for awards like GAP is to “present where you’re at and be honest. I know if I’m on a panel I appreciate artists just being direct, telling it how it is and leaving all of the grant-y language that’s sort of fluff out.”
To learn more about Colemxn and their work, check out their website.
Megan Gallagher is a writer from Redmond, Washington. She has been writing for the Artist Trust blog since July 2017 and loves learning more about Washington State’s arts communities.